Setting up for success: Southern University hosts conference to help small business owners

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 4:38pm

Starting a small business can be tough and costs a lot of money.

More than half of small businesses fail within the the first four years, but Southern University is trying to make that trend a thing of the past.

That's why hundreds of small business owners came to the university Wednesday to get the tools they need to succeed.

At least $10,000, that's how much money it usually takes to start a business. In Louisiana, that is what's holding a lot of small business owners back.

"It's very hard for you to find funding for start-ups these days

"People don't want to fund start up. They'll fund you after you're about five years out, but when you're actually struggling and starting they really don't want to fund you, especially not the big banks," said Gloria London, the director of Southern University Center of Rural and Small Business Development.

However, that's why Southern University wants to help by providing business owners with necessary resources to get them started off right. It's part of the university's Connecting Businesses to Contracts Conference.

"This gives them the opportunity to come together and actually be able to network, find out what services I have and what services you have, and we can help each other in that way," London explained.

Jeanella and Anthony Arvie started their business three years ago.

"We came here last year, and the Ag Center has been working with us tremendously. I don't know what we would do without them," Jeanella said. "We have a creole seasoning called 'Ha U Want it,' and he came up with the name because of the way you use it. He loves to cook. So he started mixing spices together to see what he could come up with to make his food to taste the way that he wanted it to."

Just like many other small business owners, they've encountered road block after road block.

"As long as we were giving it away, people loved it. They were coming back for more and coming back for more," Jeanella said. "Then when we get to the stores they're telling us 'We already have enough seasoning. We don't want this and this and that.'"

That's not stopping the Arvies. This year, they are focusing on getting "Ha U Want It" into more south Louisiana stores. They believe the opportunities this conference provides will help make that happen.

"Network with other people and just trying to get my business on the right track," Anthony said.

This is the university is 10th year holding this conference.

If you're interested in learning more or want any tips, you can go here: http://www.crsbd.com/

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